THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2020
The disordered commander's tale: Last night, Susan Page asked a surprisingly good early question.
It was her first question to Candidate Pence. The question went like this:
PAGE (/10/7/20): Thank you, Senator Harris.
Vice President Pence, more than 210,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 since February. The U.S. death toll, as a percentage of our population, is higher than that of almost every other wealthy nation on Earth. For instance, our death rate is two and a half times that of Canada, next door.
You head the administration's coronavirus task force. Why is the U.S. death toll, as a percentage of our population, higher than that of almost every other wealthy country? And you have two minutes to respond without interruption.
It's true! After adjusting for population, our "death toll" is roughly two and a half times that of Canada.
That's true if you're measuring Total Deaths to Date. It's also true if you're measuring Current Daily or Weekly Deaths.
(Very few journalists or major news orgs have ever explained the distinction between those two different types of "death rate." Simply put, our upper-end journalists lack any and all such skills.)
It's also true that Germany's current weekly death rate, after adjusting, is about one-fifteenth of ours. After adjusting for population, Japan's current weekly death rate is less than one-thirtieth of ours.
Let's state those numbers a different way. Our current weekly death is about fifteen times that of Germany. Our death rate thirty times that of Japan, two and a half times that of Canada.
Given the way our discourse works, we will guess that very few people have ever heard any statistics like those. Give the way our upper-end press corps works, even fewer people have ever seen a serious attempt to explain those remarkable gaps.
Page included minimal data in her first question for Pence. That said, her question took us well beyond the place where our discourse typically swells.
People are dying in this country at a rate which far exceeds the rate in Canada. In a perfectly decent first question, Page asked why that is.
In response, Pence droned on and on, performing his standard Reagan shtick. Pence's "response" went like this:
PENCE (continuing directly): Susan, thank you. And I want to thank the Commission and the University of Utah for hosting this event. And Senator Harris, it's a privilege to be on the stage with you.
And our nation has gone through a very challenging time this year. But I want the American people to know that from the very first day, President Donald Trump has put the health of America first. Before there were more than five cases in the United States, all people who had returned from China, President Donald Trump did what no other American president had ever done. And that was, he suspended all travel from China, the second largest economy in the world. Now, Senator Joe Biden opposed that decision. He said it was xenophobic and hysterical. But I can tell you, having led the White House coronavirus task force, that that decision alone by President Trump bought us invaluable time to stand up the greatest national mobilization since World War II.
And I believe it saved hundreds of thousands of American lives. Because with that time, we were able to reinvent testing. More than 115 million tests had been done to date. We were able to see to the delivery of billions of supplies, so our doctors and nurses had the resources support they needed. And we began, really, before the month of February we started to develop a vaccine and to develop medicines and therapeutics that have been saving lives all along the way. And under President Trump's leadership, Operation Warp Speed, we believe we'll have literally tens of millions of doses of a vaccine before the end of this year.
The reality is, when you look at the Biden plan, it reads an awful lot like what President Trump and I and our task force has been doing every step of the way. And quite frankly, when I look at their plan that talks about advancing testing, creating new PPE, developing a vaccine, it looks a little bit like plagiarism, which is something Joe Biden knows a little bit about.
And I think the American people know that this is a president who has put the health—
PAGE: Thank you, Vice President Pence.
PENCE: —of America first. And the American people, I believe with my heart, can be proud—
PAGE: Thank you, Vice President Pence.
PENCE: —of the sacrifices they have made. It's saved countless American lives.
Finally, the candidate stopped. At this point, Page thanked him for the third time.
Something else should perhaps be said at this juncture. As you can see from the transcript or tape, Pence hadn't said a single word in response to the question Page asked.
Forget about nations like Germany and Japan. Why is Canada's death rate so much lower than ours?
That's the question Page had asked. Pence hadn't offered the slightest response to that actual question.
In a slightly different world, Page might have restated her question, asking again for an answer. Instead, the moderator said what's shown below.
She thanked the candidate for the third time. As she did, she drew back the curtain on the current state of the American discourse:
PAGE (continuing directly): Thank you, Vice President Pence. Senator Harris, would you like to respond?
Pence hadn't made the slightest attempt to answer the question he'd been asked. Smiling politely, the moderator asked Candidate Harris if she'd like to respond.
So it went on this first question for Pence. So it went throughout the evening. Our assessment would be this:
Our discourse works on a very primitive level. In fairness, though she's been a major player for decades, that plainly isn't Susan Page's sole doing or fault.
Despite the various things you may hear, our discourse is very primitive. For a more amazing example, consider the latest thing the possible sociopath said.
Donald J. Trump, who may be dying, had been banging around the White House feeling amazingly well. Finally, he released his latest videotape.
The statement he made on the videotape recalled the failing King Lear as he wandered the moors, or perhaps the public reaction to the death of the Inka as described by Charles Mann:
TRUMP (10/7/20): Hi, perhaps you recognize me? It’s your favorite president. And I’m standing in front of the Oval Office at the White House, which is always an exciting place to be.
I got back a day ago from Walter Reed Medical Center. I spent four days there, and didn’t have to, I could’ve stayed at the White House, but the doctors said, “Because you’re president, let’s do it.” I said, “Fine. You tell me what to do, and I’m going to listen.” These are great professionals. They’ve done a fantastic job.
And by the way, not only at Walter Reed, all over the country, we have the greatest doctors in the world, we have the greatest nurses, the greatest first responders, law enforcement, by the way, incredible, firefighters, everybody. They’re just great. We have great people. This is a great country.
But I spent four days there and I went in and I wasn’t feeling so hot, and within a very short period of time, they gave me Regeneron, it’s called Regeneron, and other things too. But I think this was the key, but they gave me Regeneron, and it was like, unbelievable. I felt good immediately. I felt as good three days ago as I do now.
So I just want to say, we have Regeneron. We have a very similar drug from Eli Lilly and they’re coming out and we’re trying to get them on an emergency basis.
We’ve authorized it. I’ve authorized it. If you’re in the hospital and you’re feeling really bad, I think we’re going to work it so that you get them and you’re going to get them free, and especially if you’re a senior, we’re going to get you in there quick. We have hundreds of thousands of doses that are just about ready.
I have emergency use authorization, all set, and we got to get it signed now, and you’re going to get better. You’re going to get better, really fast. This is things that nobody even thought of a few months ago. The job that the scientists, the labs, everybody has done is incredible.
Then in addition to that, you have various other drugs that help a lot. But I view these, I know they call them "therapeutic," but to me it wasn’t therapeutic, it just made me better. I call that a cure. So I want to get these things done. So we have to get them done. We have to get them approved, and I want to get them to the hospitals where people are feeling badly. That’s much more important to me than the vaccine.
But on the vaccines, we have many companies that are in final stages for the vaccines, Johnson & Johnson. Moderna, Pfizer, all great companies, but many of them, and we’re going to have a great vaccine very, very shortly. I think we should have it before the election, but frankly, the politics gets involved and that’s okay, they want to play their games. It’s going to be right after the election, but we did it. Nobody else, nobody else would have been able to do it.
The FDA has acted as quickly as they’ve ever acted in history. There’s never been a time and no president has ever pushed them like I pushed them either, to be honest with you. But the FDA is approving things in a matter of weeks that used to take a matter of years. So we have these drugs, Eli Lilly, and the others that are so good.
But they are, in my opinion, remember this, they’re going to say that they’re, “therapeutic.” And I guess they are therapeutic. Some people don’t know how to define therapeutic. I view it different, it’s a cure.
For me, I walked in, I didn’t feel good. A short 24 hours later, I was feeling great, I wanted to get out of the hospital and that’s what I want for everybody. I want everybody to be given the same treatment as your president because I feel great. I feel like perfect.
So I think this was a blessing from God that I caught it. This was a blessing in disguise. I caught it. I heard about this drug. I said, “Let me take it.” It was my suggestion. I said, “Let me take it,” and it was incredible the way it worked.
Incredible. I think if I didn’t catch it, we’d be looking at that like a number of other drugs, but it really did a fantastic job.
I want to get for you what I got and I’m going to make it free. You’re not going to pay for it. It wasn’t your fault that this happened. It was China’s fault, and China is going to pay a big price for what they’ve done to this country. China is going to pay a big price for what they’ve done to the world. This was China’s fault, and just remember that.
So we’re going to get you the drug. It’s going to be free. We’re going to get it into the hospitals as soon as you can, as soon as we can. And you’ll see some amazing things happen because we have … our military is doing the distribution. It’s called logistics, and they deliver, hundreds of thousands of troops in a matter of days. This is easy stuff for them.
Our generals are all ready, we’re waiting for the emergency use authorization and the drug companies have just made a lot of it. So hopefully this is going to be not just a therapeutic, it’s going to be much more than a therapeutic. You’re going to get better. You’re going to get better fast, just like I did. So again, a blessing in disguise. Good luck.
The president regards the drug in question as a cure, but also as a blessing from God. Luckily, he feels perfect. Also, he's going to make it free.
By any conceivable rational standard, this badly disordered man doesn't have the slightest idea what he's talking about. Yesterday, he announced a miracle cure. Earlier in the year, he had repeatedly said that the virus was going to disappear as if by magic.
Donald J. Trump is out on his feet. He's been a late-rounds Palooka, just hanging on, for a very long time now.
That said, we in our primitive discourse have had no way to discuss this obvious fact. Our press corps lacks a language for this.
Beyond that, it's been decades since they showed an investment in telling the actual truth. Simply put, that isn't a part of their culture, and it hasn't been a key part of their culture for a very long time.
A struggling Palooka, out on his feet, was announcing a miracle cure. Amazingly, the front-page headline in the print edition of today's New York Times tells the public this:
Trump's Claim Of Covid Cure Is Not Proven
By rational standards, the commander's claims aren't just "not proven." His claims are stone-cold crazy. His claims are transparently nuts.
The commander is basically out on his feet. He's been so for some time.
He's been making crazy claims all through the course of the year. But all the Times was able to muster was a headline saying that his claim of a miracle cure "is not proven!"
Headlines can be unfair to the text of a news report. We'd say that this headline wasn't. Haberman and Thomas lacked a language and a set of norms for reporting what had happened. These are markers of a very significant fact:
Forget the things you're constantly told (directly and indirectly). The public discourse within which we're all ensconced is that of a primitive people.
It's been developed by a Hamptons-based guild. They aren't even slightly sharp.
King Lear wandered on the moors. When the Inka died, the people continued to parade his body around.
Way back in 2017, medical specialists tried to say that the commander in chief is, or seems to be, mentally ill. They tried to say that his condition made him dangerous, that he would only get worse.
When the medical specialists did those things, the New York Times, and the rest of the guild, agreed to disappear them.
Pence refused to answer the question. "Thank you," the journalist said.
This afternoon: It's feared that Mister Trump's War is on the way, Robert Woodward has now explicitly said.
His statement was made on today's Morning Joe. He spoke at 7:53 A.M. Eastern.
Mika instantly moved on. We're hoping for videotape.